tv After Words with Don Watkins CSPAN May 31, 2016 7:00am-8:03am EDT
recent titles include power, ambition, glory, leaders from ancient world. mr. forbes appeared on book tv to discuss latest book reviving america. >> profound implications around the world, bad economies lead to bad politics, we see that everywhere around the world. it comes from mistakes. nice thing about policy errors is they can be corrected. those errors to be corrected and that's why we wrote the book reviving america, we focus on three big reforms, obviously there are lot of other things that have to be done but you
have to have priorities, so we prioritize on health care, on a new tax code, and getting our monetary system back on track for the first time in almost half a century. >> steve forbes live on book tv in-depth live. >> c-span, created by cable companies and brought to you by cable or satellite provider. next up on after words, don watkins discusses income inequality with diana roth. >> host: don, i have enjoyed reading your terrific book and
could you start out by telling us why inequality isn't a problem? >> well, sure, let's start out with what is economic inequality, usually is equating the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. we can have a gap because some people are getting rich and some are getting poor, some are getting richer at different rates and inequality can also rise or fall for different reasons. so one reason might be that some people are just being really, really productive. amazon who is employing thousands of people whoset is creating tons of value byge pioneering new invention so he' going to get richer than me anda say my wife who is a teacher. she's only providing economic value to a few people at a time. there's other things that can increase inequality that are
just and take advantage of people.ti bernie, a guy who is going to embezzle and steal a lot of money through fraud. the reason i say inequality isn't a problem, we are not concerned with how much money dh you have but how did you get it, did you get it through a process that is fair or unfair. that's something that we are challenging and saying that's not a fairway to treat people. >> host: we hear that inequality is one of the causes, what do you say about that, what do you say to these people?le >> guest: well, you have to be clear why is it that they have made a essential claim, middle-class stagnation, americans have a sense that we don't live in a world that when you achieve something through your work it doesn't come at my expense. when jeff bezos built amazon it
didn't make my worse off, it made me better off. we have to bring others down which is really what the inequality campaign is all about. in order to do that you have to be able to show that something to the effect that the guys at the top got their at your costto by disadvantaging, by taking advantage of you and that's why really claim of tag nation has become central to them, and so the idea that the middle class stagnated. general 1979. this is implausible through common sense. would you rather be making 50,000 today or 100,000 in 1979 given all the advances inerent medicine, given everything that's happened in internet and technology realm, given oures bigger houses, very few people would take that bet. and the question is then, what
does this claim based on? and what it is claims that base on statistical aggregate. i started working in 1979 and, man, i have not gotten a raise for decades. that's not the scenario we are talking about. what we are talking about a certain category has seen wages not increased very much overat p time. i statistical doesn't necessarily show what's happening to you and me. for instance, immigration, they come here to the united states and now they eastern more than they did in their countries and
they are better off. what's going to happen to medium and income when people taking low-paying jobs, it's going to go down. even though everybody in the scenario better off. you can take the fact that the statistics look at is household income. the compositions of households change overtime. if you have a couple making $50,000 a year who let's say gets divorce, even if they get a raise, statistically that makes us looks worse off because you have two households making 35 instead of one household making 50. making 50 really take a careful look at the statistics, i don't think you can justify the claim. >> host: unequal is unfair,
should there be any taxation at all to help people at the bottom? >> guest: i think the question we have to ask is what do we need government for because we need a government. there's no question about that. the reason we need a government is so think about -- go back before the founding fathers. the basic setup of the government was unequal, people were born the rulers and some were unruled. >> host: before the founding fathers, life was nasty, brutish and short. >> guest: exactly. exactly not. my point is this, is that it's the ultimate rigged system. you have the entrenched, unequal, politically unequal groups. the real insight of the enlightenment thinkers like thew founders was each of us is equal in the fact that we have equal rights and so the government's job is not to rule us, it's to be our servant, the protecter of
our rights, but what happens when it protects our rights equally. what happens when it protects your freedom the same it protects mine, we are going to create very different amounts of wealth because we have different abilities, we make different choices, we, some of us wanting to and become a teacher and fors us that's what a successful life is whether we go up from where our parents were or down from where our parents were, that's a successful life is.co other people want to be hedge fund managers, you are going to get inequality if we have equal freedom. >> host: right, yeah, yeah. what if the people that want to start hedge funds cannot do that because, say, they have poor education. do you think the government has any rule to making the opportunities more equal by making sure they have a better education, for example? >> guest: no, absolutely not. t i realized i skipped the important essence of your previous question is does the government have a role to help out here, let's start with the
idea of quality of opportunity. i think it's been a mistake to talk about quality of opportunity because you can mean one of two things, one of them very, very good, one of them very, very bad. one is a level playing field that we all play by the same rules and that's what the political quality that i was talking about means. your freedom was protected equally than my freedom. quality of initial chances of success. it means that if you're born to parents who are a little richer or they give you good education or flossers said, if they did something as to read to you, you're going to have unfair advances. now, it's true, we have unequal opportunities. there's no way to change that. one important fact that needs to be kept in mind at all times, the fact take the example of bill gates.
hey, we give bill gates all the credit but he went to school that had computers when nobody else's school had computers. >> host: it wasn't that he went to school when nobody else had computers. he snuck off to college and then came back to bed and his mother was wondering why he was so hard to wake up in the morning. >> guest: that's exactly right. it highlights two things. would a lot of what matters in life is not the opportunities you have but what you do with the ones you have. a lot of our success in life is really turning things that don' look like opportunities into opportunities. one quick example. we tell a story in the book, susan peterson had been a guest
on the show, "shark tank" and she had business making thee stylish baby moccasins for kids to wear. she didn't turn it into abu business because she didn't have any money. what she did is she asked her brother if she could follow him around for the summer, keep the discarded window frames, she's following around, banging out the glass and at the end of the summer turned aluminum for $200 and now started the business and now successful. did she have any opportunities? just in the abstract, you would say, oh, no she doesn't have ano money but because she set a goal for herself and took the responsibility for achieving it she was able to see something that was an opportunity, potential opportunity and thens act to turn it into success and i think that's what you want to see. stop recenting other people's opportunities.
but then just to highlight, no, i think the reason you can't have the government promote one person's opportunities is the only way it can do it is that au other people's expense. the number one thing i wouldpp like to see to stop seeing the government taking opportunity.y. if you take the minimum wage now in california where i live they will hike up to $15 a year, occupational licensing laws, education system that leaves too many americans, particularly poo americans without a good education, these are really the things holding people back. it's not that they haven't gotten big enough handouts. a they have gotten handy cap by government interventions. >> host: exactly, those skilled people cannot get any jobs at all and it's troubling that it's spreading across the country. new york state might be the next just in the game of getting rid of inequality.
>> guest: yeah, so there's a big debate in literature. we can think about it in a much simple way, if we can find somebody willing to offer me $15 an hour to work, the minimum wage says it's illegal for me tn work. i would say even if it were true that 99% of the people get a higher wage and only 1% of the people get stopped from working by something by the minimum wage, you can't prop up some people by the future's of other people who are unable to -- to take that first step on the road to success. >> host: academic economistpl conclude that it's a young unskilled that are hurt by
increases in the minimum wage, it's really those who we are preventing from getting their foot on the first on the career ladder, so it is very troubling that in california and perhaps in new york teenagers aren't going to be able to get jobs because of this step. >> guest: no, i think it's really sad and tragic andto ignores the main thing that people need to succeed and this is really the story about american history.. it's an open road. open road to success. go back before we had a welfare state, before the government was doing anything to try to lift people up.ha here is a time when human beings had economic progress for short amount of time and people being able to come here and build successful lives for themselves because here as oppose to home countries, nobody was going to stop you from doing what you judge best for your life and i think the same thing is true here. more that we open the road to productive achievement and stop putting blockades andnd
barriers, regardless of where they start to have the maximum opportunity to achieve success and happiness. >> host: yes, yes. you say in your book that no one can exploit you with voluntary trade, but there are charlatans, they thought they were buying low emission's vehicles, make sure what people are saying is true or rules that say childrens under some age such as 15 or 12 shouldn't be allowed to work toe avoid exploitation? >> guest: essence of morale society is that it's voluntary, we interact voluntarily, we reach a mutual agreement and free to go separate ways. nobody can do something to us without our consent and so the
question is, in cases where somebody sells you a producte that's different than what oh they promised you, that'sto exactly where we need the government to step in and say, hey, that's not what the person consented to. it was a car that was going to operate in a certain way. i don't think you need regulatory bodies, i think you just need laws against vast-broad and so on. because what regulatory bodies do is basically they don't prescribe criminal behavior, they prescribe and proscribe behavior, dictate how people produce and decide what can of deal can we arrive at, it's not regulation to tell car makers when you sell somebodyio something, it better be what it was. you have to have this many seat belts and x, y and z rat e than leaving it to the mutual choice of buyers and sellers, as far as children, i think the government
has a right or responsibility to protect the rights of children, but i don't think that applies in so-called child labor laws which i actually think on the whole pretty damaging. on the one hand they're unnecessary when you'rell concerned about the well-being of the child. parents are going to send kidsey into a coal mine, they send kids to school. you saw child labor going away before there were ever laws against child labor. it was on its way out because of economic progress. the laws make it much harder for kids who are excited, instead of playing nintendo, whatever the video system is, you know who suffers more? the poor kids. one of my friends was thrown into the foster care system at a
young age and the main thing he didn't have his own money so that he could actually be himself so that he could gain a foothold and start building a resume and achieving success and this is one of the barriers that, you know, until you hit some age by the government, you're allowed to go out there and waste your life hang out in the street corner or do any kind of unproductive thing you want. i think that is unfair to younge people. >> host: don't you think there should be a law saying that children under a certain age have to be in school. what if i -- i know it's not very common, what if there were parents that would say, look,ai i'm going to send my children out to wash cars all day because our family needs the money or something like that? shouldn't that be prohibited? >> guest: i think you need to have the government consider what we consider abusive children. up to that it has to be parent's judgment. that brings you down to very
dangerous roads for a number of reasons, but the basic one is the government what qualifies as an education and i think that's one of the worst things you can do. we are so worried about putting government in charge of healthcare decisions, which i agree. that's a scary thing. putting them in charge of the ideas and values that children are taught, we have taken that for granted for over 100-plus years. the biggest risk is not that a handful of parents won't send kids to school, the biggest ris is that schools are taken over over bureaucracy and what ideasn their children should be taught. there's a problem with government schooling today that it doesn't educate many, many children particularly those growing up in the poorest neighborhoods. >> host: right, yeah, yeah. one of the topics on most people's radar is the u presidential elections and it's been really interest to go see
how much support bernie sanders has with his talk of inequality. and it's really driven his number much higher than they would have been otherwise. can you talk about why that is? >> guest: yeah, this gets us to what is going on in today's debate. is it that bernie sanders just has tons of charisma and sex appeal or is it that he actually has ideas that have a lot of power and i think it really is the power of the ideas and it really comes from two things. number one, is he standing for for a morale ideal, ideal of economic quality and the second is he has in his side a morale narrative that tells us when you abide by my ideal, you flourish and when you abandon the ideal you flounder. government supposedly fought
income inequality and we all did better, what happened in the 70's which is equated with blaming reagan, but starting in the 70's what happened is we abandoned that ideal. the 1% took over, started rigging the game, we moved in a radical free market direction and the result is, you know, they got all the gains and we all stagnated. and so the lesson is supposed to be fight inequality, things are great, abandon inequality, things are bad. >> host: his message does have traction, it's been getting a lot of traction. taxes should go up 80-90%. people cheer, college students vote for him. they feel the bern. >> guest: yeah, i think when yo have morality on your side at least when you appear to have a morale ideal on your side, that's very inspiring particularly to young people. >> host: they think he's telling the truth but it's coming from
his heart, they see him as authentic. how do we fight that message, how do we address it? >> guest: he has the morale ideal, take the issue of free college, he's going to help outt people by giving college. it appears for greed for the unearned. a message that a lot of kids take away, hey, maybe i'll get out of these college loans and when you combine and people will crusade for something and the only way to oppose that is to challenge the ideal, so longs as you grant, yeah, that makes you a great person, they can come out and take that strong stand for it. hey, i want a bailout or handout, you're not going to see that crusading spirit. the thing that's happened, and this is tragic about this whole discussion, is that the critics of inequality, people who don't want to see the government expanding how much wealth itrosa takes from people, expanding how
much control it has over people's choices, the people support free enterprise and free markets, they have not had much to say on the issue. when we started writing the book, you know how many books the left had put out, four or five a year.control it has over >> host: yeah. >> guest: how many op oapts inequality critic have put out at that time zero, zero. one of the biggest issuess already two years ago, since i then there's been two books, one by canadian professor not too many people have heard of unfortunately even though his book was quite good and another by thomas soul. it didn't address the whole thing. inequality is not as bad as you think or challenging the t solution, we agree, we should minimize inequality but if you remember rand paul during presidential debates,
republicans will reduce inequality better than democrat and the trouble is both of those can see that economic quality is an ideal and the problem is if economic inequality is ideal we are in trouble because economic freedom is immoral as we talked about bezos versus my life, a free market leads to nothing resembling economic inequality, it leads to progress for everybody but very different progress. so we have a lot of work to do. we have to challenge the ideal, we have to challenge the narrative and present a counter ideal and narrative and that's what we present in the book. >> host: yeah, yeah, i certainly enjoyed very much reading it and certainly worth everybody picking up and adding it to the debate. what seems to concern many americans isn't inequality per say but mobility, so we talk about people who start off low and they just want to get better
off and that seems to be more important than economic inequality, what do you say about that? >> i definitely think that there's -- that that's true. a lot of our concern when it comes to fairness it's not that gap, are people able to rise by merit, are they able to rise by their own effort even if they start out with a lot of wealth, with a lot of the things that people on the more affluence side of the scale have, i think -- there's a couple of things that are important to keep in mind about mobility, first of all, mobility is not declined, more researchers agree. mobility is not really declined over the last 40 years even as economic inequality has probably been rising, but we do have a mobility problem. now the danger is thinking about mobility in purely financialbi terms, a lot of times you'll see these charts, how many peoplemo
move up from the bottom to the middle. the goal is not to move up to the a particular quintile and build for yourself a really fulfilling life. i mentioned my friend jeremiah. but isn't that a full success?ly should we regret that he didn't go and become investment banker -- he's smart enough to, that would have gotten him to the top? >> host: there are some that say we need to pay teachers more and the level that they are giving back to society doesn't really square with the amount that we are paying them, that we should be paying teachers more. so his program from new york had proposals where teachers wouldg.
get paid more in exchange of giving up tenture. the union wouldn't let that happen. >> guest: that's quite revealinc of the union. i think teachers should be paid as much as economic value to generate in the market. the problem is we don't have a market on education today. it's not clear of how much teachers should be paid. but the basic question is then how should we think about mobility if we shouldn't think about it by looking at mobility tables. i think the way you think about it is are there barrierssh preventing a person from rising. >> are there barriers stopping a person from rising and i think what that really comes down to at the end of the day is government intervening in thee economy and the way that prevents a person from rising by productive achievement, from rising by productive merit. >> host: there are so many. occupational licensing which you discuss in your book. >> guest: let me give an example
of that, there's a million examples and maybe some that particular annoy you. but here is one that particularly annoys me. let's say i can't find somebody to employ me, i'm going to goo out on my own and teach and perform hair braiding because it's a skill i'm really good at. let's say i know a bunch of people who want to pay me to do it. in many states i can't do that, it's illegal to do that -- >> host: for me to braid your hair? >> guest: i have to go and spend hundreds and thousands of hours getting a license and sometimes hundreds and thousands of dollars. who are the people who try to become hair braiders and who are the least people to try to afford a process like that? it's the poor people to get that step on the road to success. and that's just one of many,
many examples -- >> host: even closing down children's limonade stands. >> guest: absolutely. a lot is about teaching the lessons of entrepreneurship. i think that teach it is main lesson of entrepreneurship. you need permission from the government to do almost anything. there are so many barriers particularly for people starting out from the bottom. we talked about minimum wage and we talked about education.n here is one more area, everything the government doesth that drives up cost of the things that we buy is a huge barrier and opportunity. it means that i have to workni that much harder just to make a living, so when the government funds affordable, quote, housing crusade is driving up the cost of housing. a lot of restriction that is we see by the epa on energy production, such as the whole
ethanol scandal, who are the people who are most effective by that? the people who don't have a big of budget and can't afford the higher energy costs.nnot >> host: the bottom spends 4%. >> guest: a fourth of a tight budget is a really big deal. there are little ways in which rising has become harder. .. edge it is a lot. there's a lt of ways in which it's becoming harder. if were really concerned about people being able to rise by merit the first obligation is to stop making it harder for them. >> host: what would you say to people who say we need to have more renewable energy, solar and wind even though it drives up the cost of energy because that helps the planet? do you you want to help the planet? >> guest: this is the big question but what i would say is i want to help human beings. i want to help human lives. the way that you do that
fundamentally is leave people free to use the best energy for their lives. let them decide whether it is oil, natural gas or whatever. >> host: but then other people come and say this is polluting, this is increasing greenhouse gas emissions, this is causing global warming or climate change. what what would you say .. picture pl . >> guest: it is hugely beneficial to human beings. if we want to understand how human beings went from living to 30 to 80, it's been precisely because we've had cheap, affordable, abundant energy. i don't think the arguments we hear against fossil fuels actually hold up. i don't think that, you know, the idea that we're running out of them, that we need the government to get us hooked on something else is true. i think they can certainly cause
pollution, and that's why you need laws to protect us from pollution, but you don't need to outlaw the fuel that more than 80% of the time is making possible industrial civilization. climate changes is, i think, a more complex issue. i don't think there's evidence that we're headed for a climate catastrophe. i think the planet has been warming, and i think on net what fossil fuels do is give us the ability to cope with any climate. so i think -- but to circle and connect this then to the whole inequality debate, one to have major things that we're told is that we need to expand the power of government in order to equalize people economically, and then we're told we need to expand the power of government in order to prevent us fromtr destroying the planet fors fossil fuels. but it's always take away freedom and wealth fromd individuals and give more power to the government. >> host: that's true. >> guest: and these are the two major argument, the
environmental argument and inequality argument for expanding the government today. we're attacking the inequality argument here. i should just add a close friend of mine wrote a book " tackling the environmental one. so i would say we've got the problem solved now. two books. one on each issue.. >> host: right. we just have to make sure people read them and take them to heart.th >> guest: that is the hard part. >> host: yeah.>>he a lot of people say we should with more like scandinavia because scandinavia's more equal. what do you say about that? >> guest: you know, when i started writing this book, i knew a little about scandinavia, but not a lot. and one of the surprise things i found was that, actually, if you look at the history of, say, sweden, you find it supports the complete opposite conclusion from what we're usually taught.
>> host: really? why is that? >> guest: we hear comparisons between sweden and america today. i think those comparisons are dangerous for many reasons. one, there's a bunch different than just our political policies. number two, it's easy to cherry pick the political policies that characterize sweden versus america. we're often told sweden is the socialist country and america is a crazy, you know, capitalist country. in fact, we're pretty much comparable in the amount of government control there is, government involvement in the economy, it's just different. they have a little bit -- >> host: they have much higher taxes. >> guest: much higher taxes, much more wealth redistribution, but actually a much more damaging regulatory sphere in many ways than america. so they're about comparable in that sense. but this is what's really fascinating. so sweden actually started off as one of the most poor countries in europe if you go back a few hundred years ago. one of the poorest countries in europe. it then quickly became one of the richest countries in europe,
and it was because it became one of the most free market countries. in many ways it was more free market for many years than the united states. became very rich, very unequal. very unequal. in, i think, roughly the 1960s you start to hear sweden as we hear it talked about today, dramatically increasing taxes, dramatically increasing wealth distribution. it was never a socialist country, but it was a pretty -- it went very far in the direction of social-democratic redistributive state. >> host: yeah. >> guest: the result was that the economy basically flatlined. things got really bad.go you didn't see the economic growth, you didn't see the entrepreneurial verve that had been in sweden at that point.eu you weren't getting a ton of new companies coming out all the time. what happened in economic inequality? it shrank. it got as low as it's ever gotten. well, eventually the swedes said
this is not working and in more recent years have started liberating their economy, and they're seen really, really goou economic outcomes, but what's happened to inequality? it's starting to grow again. >> host: yeah. >> guest: so i think if you look from perspective of their own history, you see at least a testament to the kind of case we're making, that if you're concerned about economic progress, what you want not economic redistribution, but economic liberation. >> host: we do want someme redistribution, right? we do need some things done. for example, we need armies, we need streetlights, we need certain things only the government can pay for, and because of that we need to have taxes. >> guest: well, but i think you need to differentiate between two things. one is we need to pay for the things that the government doesa that protect all of our freedom, particularly the military, the police. there's no question about that. and, you know, you can debate about what are the best ways to raise that revenue. but i don't call that redistribution.
redistribution is when the government instead of raising funds in order to protect everybody's freedom and property, basically takes some people's property so they can give it to other people. and there, i think, there's never a justification for that. >> host: so there shouldn't be any government social safety net, no earned income tax credit, no food stamps, no unemployment insurance, no housing vouchers, no medicaid? >> guest: no forcing one person to work without pay so that other people can get paid without working. >> host: they don't work without pay, they get paid, but a portion of it goes for the social safety net so if they then get in trouble, then they have that social safety net to fall back on. >> guest: no. i call that working without pay because what it really amounts to is i went to work, and somebody wants to pay me in return for my services, and i don't get to decide what to do with that money. that goes to some other cause that i may not agree with, i may not want it, i may not want it in that amount. i'm not against a safety net, if
you want to call it that. bad things can happen in life, and you have to be prepared for them, right? bad things can happen to the people you care about, and you want to do something about it. >> host: right.me >> guest: all of that can be taken care of voluntarily. my previous book focused on america before and after the welfare state, and one of the things that was happening in america before the creation of the welfare state really starting in 1935 with the social security act was that there were these challenges involved in industrialization where suddenly you had to figure out, well, what happens if i lose a job? or now that we're living longerd what do i do in retirement to take care of myself and take care of my family? and what was happening waspe people were starting to find private, voluntary solutions to these. first of all, they would just save, you know, much more significant amount of money than we do today, but there was also rising insurance in terms of unemployment insurance, although that was often illegal for some bizarre reason in the states.
but private unemployment insurance. there was a phenomena called mutual aid societies which were, in effect, little insurance company insurance agencies. i could join a lodge, pay an amount and have a contractual right to, say, health care benefits or in some cases a mace to stay if i was elderly and couldn't support myself. and, of course, there is abundant private charity. why should we make it voluntary rather than coercive? different people have different values. >> host: what about the food lines in the great depression? i mean, these things probably worked for some people some of the time, but we've all seen photographs of people standing in line for soup at the soup kitchen during the great depression. are you saying life was better then and not having food stamps is an advantage? >> guest: wouldn't you be shocked if i said, yes?
that was actually the ideal. >> host: i'm just interested in your answer. >> guest: absolutely. no, the fact was the depression -- economists debate the details, but there's no question this was fundamentally made possible by government control over the economy and particularly the actions of the federal reserve. and so when people are less free, you don't get widespread depressionings. >> host: no, right.re that is definitely agreed on, but one can say on the one hand that there should be less regulation and that the government should have, the federal reserve should have a consistent monetary policy tied to, say, the taylor rule without at the same time saying that there shouldn't be any social safety nets. they don't both have to go together. >> no, but my only point is this: if you recognize that wealth redistribution is immoral and destructsive, the question is -- destructive, the question is but don't we need it? no, history shows we don't need it. and great depression far from being an example of look what
would have happened if we had one, it doesn't count because it was precisely the fact the thatt we did have all these government interventions in the economy. so if you keep the government out of things so that it doesn't create widespread depressions, then private, voluntary charity has always been more than abundant. and then, of course, we're so much richer now. this is way less of a concern. the fact is that there's way more money that you can use to buy insurance, to help people that you care about, to help the causes you care about. so i don't see that as a problem. what i do see as a problem is a society that treats people not as individuals that we owe respect for their freedom and property to, but who divide society into resources and to burdens. we're burdens when we need handouts, we're resources to be exploited by society when we achieve something. i don't think that's the way a moral society treats people. i think people deserve to be treated as independent beings
who have a right to be left alone to achieve their own happiness and success. >> host: if they fall down in the street of a heart attack, we don't have any obligation to help them get on their feet? w we don't have any obligationing to get them medical care? if they're starving, we don't have -- >> guest: well, you saying question.. the question is who is we? >> host: society as a whole.e. >> guest: there is no society as a whole. you have to ask which individuals have which responsibilities. if it's my friend or even somebody that i know around the neighborhood and i see that, like, their house burned down. yeah, i think i have a certain obligation. it's part of having integrity. the people i care about when the chips are down, i'm going to be there and assist them.em >> host: say there's someonet: who's very nasty and perhaps a republican and doesn't have any friends at all, and that person just have problems, and there's no friend to bail them out. are you saying there's no government entity that has a
moral obligation to bail them out? >> guest: no.ea that's one reason you shouldn't be a jerk. if you actually want people to help you and be nice to you, you have to repay the saver. but i'm against the idea thatid one person's need is an entitlement. you know, when we think about this question, we often think about ourselves as the one doing the helping, right in and we think, yeah, i want to help people. i would hate seeing somebody starving in front of my eyes. e so would i. you can help anybody that you want in a free society. the question is this, put yourself in the shoes of somebody who needs help. let's say you're sick, you need an operation you can't afford. would you think i'm entitled and somebody owes me, and i don'tm care if they're struggling to send their kid to school, i don't care if they're trying to build their business? i need something. you know what? i'm going to march over to my neighbor's house and demand that he pay for my operation. i asked thousands of people that question. i've yet to meet one person who
goes, yeah, that's how i'd act. you and understand that if they said no, all right, i'll go ask somewhere else. and i think that same kind of civilized, moral attitude should be reflected in government policy. this isn't about helping peoplel this is about is your need, yout sheer need entitlementr heard aa regardless of why you got into that position. and i've never heard an argument for why it is entitlement. >> host: say you need something like, to take the sake of argument, heart surgery, and you go to your friend, would you give me the money for heart surgery, your friend might want to give you the money but not be be able to afford the magnitude of that operation, that surgery. but the if we pooled the risk, so to speak, by taking a few pennies from everybody depending on their income so that when you needed your heart surgery, there would be pennies from many, many people to help you with the heart surgery, and there would
be a fund, a risk pool so that you wouldn't have to depend on one friend, and you would have to have a rich friend who would be able to help you with that heart surgery. these are questions where withe there are vast economies of scale, and you might say the government has a role to play in enabling these things to happen as a safety net. >> guest: well, but this is one of the reasons why insurance is such a great innovation, right? we get those economies of scale voluntarily. and this is why that's so important. was we can decide -- because we can decide if it's worth it to us.. now, the problem -- today healt care is a complex situation because it is so controlled by government that we take for granted that things would be as expensive as they are, that insurance would be as expensive as it is. we have a whole section in the book where we talk about some of the ways where government intervention has really made health care in america a combination of really, really good -- that is, we see a lot of innovation, a lot of progress -- and really, really bad.
it's driven up costs enormously precisely as it hasn't left the market free. >> host: no, that's true. we have very, very severe problems in the delivery of our health care system just because of the lack of competition and the lack of the ability to get a bare bones health insurance. but it doesn't mean that it always works for everybody, and i would contend that we need some kind of safety net, because we don't want a society where if someone doesn't have any friends, they're starving or, you know, dying of an early death, and it's very troublinger to me that you don't see the need for that. >> guest: well, i think history shows that there isn't a need for that. the kind of scenario that you're talking about is not realistic n. a rich land where people feel benevolent toward one another, that there's somebody out there who's going to have no friends, family, neighbors, no private charity willing to help them out. the idea that that is the
scenario we're talking about, i think, doesn't make a lot of sense. it would be great if today we were debating should the government have any role in a safety net. i think that's a good debate to have.. i think that's very different from debating economic inequality. the economic inequality debate focuses not only on what happens to that one person in a million or maybe less who can't help themself and doesn't have anybody willing to voluntarily help them. what it says is that we need to equalize, and at the core of that is the idea that we need to bring down people at the top itself. so it's not about solving problems with poor people. let me give you one example. in the book capital in the 21st century, chief proposals for fighting inequality are marginal tax rates of upwards of 80% -- >> host: it's a global wealth tax. >> guest: and also an inheritance tax upwards of 80%. and he says exmissitly this is
not about -- explicitly, this is not about raiding money to help pure -- raising money to help the poor. this is about ending those big fortunes. no, i submit that that is very different, it's in a completely different moral category than a debate over what do we do about, or you know, that very exceptional case of a person who's in need and is having trouble finding support. even if a person disagrees with me and says we need some kind of a safety net, there's something morally corrupt if your view is leading you to destroy fortuness in and of itself even by your own admission, it's not going to help that poor person. >> host: right. and thomas piketty isel completely -- very, very impractical because it's very difficult to calculate wealth. wealth changes every minute with markets changing and values different, so implementing a wealth tax is extraordinarily difficult which is why
governments rely on income taxes. but will has been a lot of animosity towards some people who earn a lot of money such as ceos. and the government's trying to rein in ceo pay in some different areas. interestingly enough, there's been a lot less animosity towards our rock stars, madonna and lady gaga and also leading sports players. the animosity of the progressives seems to be targeted at ceos rather than's artists who -- and sports players, who people seem to think have earned the money that they get. can you comment on that? >> guest: yeah. i think part of the reason is we can -- it's very easy to see the value of what a lebron james does.does, li hey, he's a spectacular player, and people love watching basketball. one of the really weird things about the debate over ceo pay is that we're taught to have really strong opinions about how much a sew owe should get paid, but if
you ask most people -- ceo should get paid, but if you ask most people what does a ceo do -- >> host: they manage companies. >> guest: yeah. but people have no clue what that means or why it's important. i mean, obviously, you know, the people we know who are experts and study this stuff, they have some idea of it. but it's not well known, and yet we're supposed to have a view of how much they should get paid? the fortune 500, biggest countries -- biggest companies in america, between $2-$200 billion in revenue. you know what the average pay for the average ceo is? $10.5 million. that's a lot of money. >> host: yeah. >> guest: i'd be happy to take a percent of that. nevertheless, when you compare it to the scale of the companiet that they're running or you compare it to what lebron james makes, lebron james made something like $20x million last years a his basketball -- as his basketball salary.
it does not seem outrageous that ease these ceos are making that kind of money. everything around us, the tv cameras, a building with air-conditioning and heating, the fact this we got here in a car, the fact that i got to this side of the country on an airplane, all of that was made by entrepreneurs, managers, by businesses, and all those businesses were headed by ceos. as we've seen just an obvious case, apple with and without steve jobs, it's clear a ceo can make a huge difference there. >> host: yeah. no, that's true. you think it's because people understand basketball, they understand madonna, they just don't understand the ceo? it's not, you think, they have an animosity towards business. i think -- i was thinking they have an animosity towards business. >> guest: it's both. we are taught to be suspicious of business in general. i was going to boil down to what our book is really about at the end of the day. t a celebration of productive achievement.
and one of the biggest disgraces and one of the worst injustices in history is that sue perlative businessmen, robber-baron. the idea that they robbed people.. >> host: right. >> guest: what transformed this country from a country that was, you know, basically a swamp, backwater, it was totally poor into by 1914 the richest country in the world? it was in large part the actions of people like carnegie and rockefeller. it was the people who really created these new industries, these new modes of organization and far from robbing people, ifr you look at the price of steelel or the price of oil as rockefeller or carnegie are getting richer, the cost of what they're producing is going downl down, down as they supply a nationwith kerosene and later gasoline and as they supply a nation with steel.
today in our own time we've seen a real smearing of any businessman who's successful. even steve jobs who i think is, you know, he's also seen as an artist, so i think there's a more positive response. within weeks of his death, you started hearing people, oh, he didn't give a lot to charity. >> host: you did hear that, that's true. yeah, i remember that. >> guest: this was a person who had created an amazing company that made millions of people's lives better, helped lift the standards of other companies who started thinking about the user experience at a better level. and yet because he didn't give away the money that he earned, he was villainized. >> host: right, right. >> guest: terribly unfair. >> host: exactly, yes. what message do you want people to take from your book? d to then dream and how do we revive it. one side has blamed it on the
rich and seeing the solution as penalizing the rich. if you want to boil down our solution in a sentence, is that the way to move us in a better direction and revive the american dream is to liberate productive ability and to celebrate productive achievement. >> host: yes. and what are your main recommendations for doing so, for expanding the economy and for having more economic growth? what do you think our presidential candidates shouldld be saying right now in terms of how to get us out of the stagflation? >> guest: oh, my gosh. well, i would say a couple things that we could do, some controversial, maybe some a little less controversial. first of all, let's end all this corporate welfare. let businesses compete at a free market.
no subsidies, no bailouts, no special loans. people -- let businesses have to prove themselves in an actual free enterprise situation.n. i would say also let's stop putting barriers in the way of people rising, particularly p people starting at bottom. let's get rid of the minimum wage so that people are free to find jobs. let's get rid of the kind of insanely unnecessary occupation no licensing situation such as the hair braiding that we've talked about. let's stop the government from making things so expensive through completely unnecessary and ineffective things such as the ethanol subsidies and so on. let's make it as easy as possible and the road as open as possible for people to start rising. i would say in terms of education, i would like us to see, us move in the direction of liberating education. i think what's happening in i nevada where parents are giving more control and more choice with regards to education is a good sign. i'd like to see more of that,
and i'd like to see a bunch of innovators in the educational sphere running to nevada so we can really see education become cheaper and more effective for all americans. and then -- >> host: and did you see what happened in louisiana when the governorship changed? children were not allowed to ope out of the c schools anymore. they could only opt out of the d and the f schools whereas before they'd been allowed to opt out of the c, d and f schools. and then when the democratic governor came in place, he said they couldn't opt out of the c school because it was okay for them to be in a c school. >> guest: that's the egalitarian creed.it it's concerned with everybody making about the same of their lives. so, for instance, one of the things that -- i mean, i take this debate personally. i do okay. i have a 3-year-old daughter and a 1-year-old son. and basically, the view of thete
inequality critics is when i try to give them more opportunities, i'm doing something wrong. their pursuit of happiness is less important than somebody who's born into a poorer family x. i think that is outrageous. i think each individual's lifeid matters to him and to the people that he loves and cares about, and we should each be free to make the most of it. the idea of holding some people down if it's allegedly justified by lefting some people up -- lifting only people up, the least you can say about it is it has nothing to do with american ideal of unlimited opportunity. >> host: is there some country that you think does better than the united states? here you've outlined a program for us. is there some country that's followed it and had more economic growth? >> guest: i mean, overall ii me still think we have been the most productive and the greatest and most free nation overall. i think, certainly, there's things in other countries that are better. i think in certain ways there's more economic freedom in hong kong p today than there is in america. as i mentioned with the
regulatory side of things, i think there's more freedom in some ways in scandinavia than there is in america. but i still think that overall is this is the country that hase greatest wealth, the greatest amount of pent-up opportunity. and at the root, a love of opportunity. living in an opportunity-rich society is not easy, because you aren't entitled to anything. you do have to take responsibility. you aren't guaranteed that job for life, so you always have to be learning and trying and really going out there and giving it your all to make something of your life. and a lot of people in this world, a lot of people in country -- but thankfully, you know, not a majority -- they don't want that. they want to be taken care of. they want security. but that only comes, that kind of security, only comes at the expense of other people. so if we want a society where everybody has unlimited opportunity to make the most of their lives, well, here's the place to fight for it because
here's really where you have that kind of sense of life, emotional, cultural commitment to the idea of the self-made man and the infect individual who's riding by merit and ability. d rising by merit and ability. so we can learn a lot from the other countries, but at the oafnld the day, there's something special about america that we should really be fighting to build on.. >> host: well, i certainly agre> with that, don. and everybody should read "equal is unfair" and get the different perspective on inequality that you don't get from the press today. thank you so much. >> guest: it's been a pleasure. >> c-span, created by america's cable television companies and brought to you as a public service by your cable or satellite provider. >> here's a look at some upcoming book fairs and festivals happening around the country. the san francisco chronicle is
hosting the bay area book festival in downtown berkeley, california, on the first weekend of june. later in june we head to chicago for live coverage of the 32nd annual printers row lit fest featuring seymour hersh, amy goodman. then in hyde park, new york, it's the 13th annual roosevelt reading festival held at the presidential library and museum. and this year's harlem book fair will be held on july 16th. for more information about the book fairs and festivals booktv will be covering and to watch with previous festival coverage, lick on the book -- click on the book fairs tab on our web site, booktv.org. >> you're watching booktv on c-span2 with top nonfiction books and authors every weekend. booktv, television for serious readers. >> later today the wilson center
looks at u.s. strategy in the asia-pacific region and the threat of arms trade in east asia with foreign policy experts. that's live at 10 a.m. eastern on c-span. in the afternoon a discussion on the israeli-palestinian conflict and the challenges of reaching a two-state solution. it's from the center for new american security, that's also live on c-span at 1:30 p.m. eastern. >> i think today we, in effect, to sort of catch up with the 20th century. we've been the invisible half of the congress the past seven years. we've watched our house colleagues with interest, at least i have with interest, and the tv coverage of members of our colleagues in the house. >> today as the u.s. senate comes out of the communications dark ages, we create another historic moment in the relationship between congress and technological advancements
in communications through radio and it's. >> fifty years ago our executive branch began appearingen television. today marks the first time when our legislative branch, in its entirety, will appear on that medium of communication through which most americans get their information about what our government and our country does. >> the televising of senate chamber proceedings also represents a wise and warranted policy. broadcast media coverage recognizes the basic right and need of the citizens of our nation to know the business of their government. >> thursday, c-span marks the 30th anniversary of our live gavel-to-gavel senate floor coverage on c-span2. our special programming features key moments from the past 30 years. >> and i would show to you the body of evidence from this question: do you trust william jefferson clinton. >> and we have just witnessed